Paul Johnson: Georgia Tech ‘absolutely’ can win ACC Coastal

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson knows that his team hasn’t played well thus far, with a 1-3 record and three losses in a row. But he also knows that the Yellow Jackets have eight more games to play, starting with a Saturday matchup against Bowling Green.

“I’m not ready by any stretch to give up on this team,” Johnson said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “There’s eight games left and what we need to do is go out there and win this game and then start to build and gain some momentum and play through it.”

Johnson, who was critical of the team’s offense, defense and coaching after Tech’s 49-21 loss to No. 3 Clemson on Saturday, spoke of coaching the fundamentals and “emphasizing the little things.” He included himself as needing improvement.

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“I’ve got to get better,” he said. “I can call a better game than I called Saturday, watching the tape. You always can. Everybody has just got to get a little better.”

While Tech is 0-2 in the ACC with losses to Pittsburgh and Clemson, he hasn’t given up on the possibility of winning the Coastal Division.

“I think there’s still a chance, if what you’re asking is, ‘Do we have a chance to win the Coastal?’” Johnson said. “Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ve won the thing with a 5-3 record before.”

That was in 2012, in a three-way tie. In three of the past five years, the Coastal has been won with a league mark of 6-2, including the Jackets themselves in 2014. Tech’s remaining ACC games are against Louisville, Duke, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia.

“Right now, I’m not worried about that,” Johnson said. “I’m worried about beating Bowling Green. We’ve got to play better and win the game on Saturday, and then we’ll get to that if it ever gets to it. That’s way down in October or November. We’re still in September. That’s why it’s a little premature to give up in September.”

Johnson is well aware of the public criticism and calls for his job. He cautioned to not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

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“Now, if we play the next few games, and we’re not worth a (darn) – hey,” he said, leaving the thought unfinished. “But I’m willing to watch. I know what I see in practice and I know what I see with our guys. I think we’ve got a chance to get better and play better. So we’ll see.”